Cold War is a passionate love story between a man and a woman who meet in the ruins of post-war Poland. When the film opens, Poland is still struggling to get out of the war. There’s no electricity in the countryside. Warsaw is in ruins. With different backgrounds and temperaments, they are fatally mismatched and yet fatefully condemned to each other. Set against the background of the Cold War in the 1950s in Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia and Paris, the couple is separated by politics, character flaws and unfortunate twists of fate – an impossible love story in impossible times.
Pawlikowski, the director of Cold War remembers a general atmosphere of tension from his childhood in Warsaw. ‘At home everyone spoke their minds, but you had to be careful about what you said at school’ and dedicates the film to his parents, whose names the protagonists share. The film is not a nostalgic look at a different time or place from our own perspective. This raises the question of home and exile, not only for the characters within it, but for Pawlikowski himself, who has now made two Polish films in a row, having lived and worked in the West for decades.